Why go? Simply put, Eric Elbogen writes killer pop tunes. In his 20s, he spoke of vampires and androids; now 32, he’s focused on “mature” relationships. As long as the cuts stay this catchy, he can sing about glaucoma for all we care.
Stream this song: “Northwestern Girls” (Myspace.com/sayhitoyourmom)
Who’ll be standing next to you: Someone shouting out, “Where’s your mom?” in reference to the band’s truncated original name, Say Hi to Your Mom.
Where & when: Beauty Bar, March 14, 9 p.m. –Spencer Patterson
Why go? The top-billed band among Neon Reverb’s 90-some acts stands out as the must-see for the musically adventurous; just ask anyone who caught the East Coast trio’s riveting ’08 Bunkhouse tour stop. Latest release Set ’em Wild, Set ’em Free carries on the ultra-creative tradition, blending campfire folk with experimentation that gets noisy but never feels oppressive.
Stream this song: “Everyone Is Guilty” (Myspace.com/akak)
Who’ll be standing next to you: The ghosts of John Fahey and Frank Zappa.
Where & when: Club Aruba, March 13, 9 p.m. –SP
The Devil Makes Three
Why go? This percussion-less Santa Cruz, California, trio mixes bluegrass with rockabilly and packs plenty of grit into its acoustic songs about hard drinking and hard living. The music combines punk attitude and simplicity with a deep understanding of old-timey musical forms.
Stream this song: “Old Number Seven” (Myspace.com/thedevilmakesthree)
Who’ll be standing next to you: A guy wearing a Social Distortion T-shirt and cowboy boots.
Where & when: Las Vegas Country Saloon, March 13, 9 p.m. –Josh Bell
Leopold and His Fiction
Why go? Take a San Fran trio version of The White Stripes (with the chick playing bass), add the thick manes and Southern-fried carnality of Kings of Leon and divide it all by the devil-may-care attitude and timelessness of a post-electric Dylan. Then scrap it all and hit the dance floor.
Stream this song: “Shakey Momma Blues” (Leopold and His Fiction)
Who’ll be standing next to you: The Jack Daniel’s Music Appreciation Society.
Where & when: Club Aruba, March 13, 9 p.m. –Julie Seabaugh
Why go? Having signed to TKO Records and shared the stage with The Sex Pistols and TSOL, these Phoenix punk lifers lean toward the melodic side of old-school garage without losing street cred. Bonus: The Damned’s Rat Scabies produced their latest full-length.
Stream this song: “Kick Down the Doors” (myspace.com/glassheroes)
Who’ll be standing next to you: Someone with hair that would scare your mother.
Where & when: Thunderbird Lounge, March 13, 9 p.m. –JS
Why go? This noisy, lo-fi East Coast duo loves cassette tapes, loud amps and daytime television. Latest album Tut Tut Shake Ya Butt is a dirt-rock classic, and Japanther’s live shows are notoriously groovy.
Stream this song: “The Dirge" (Myspace.com/japanther)
Who’ll be standing next to you: Hipsters dancing with their fingers in their ears.
Where & when: Beauty Bar, March 15, 9 p.m. –Aaron Thompson
Roxy Epoxy and the Rebound
Why go? Roxy Epoxy’s new project is a worthy successor to her defunct synth-punk band The Epoxies. Slower tempos and fewer day-glo keyboards dot the Rebound’s forthcoming LP, while Epoxy’s regal monotone bridges the gap between Siouxsie & The Banshees’ goth-pop and chirpy new-wave nuggets.
Stream this song: “Wind Me Up” (Myspace.com/epoxies)
Who’ll be standing next to you: Punks and goths wearing (surprise) black clothing and makeup.
Where & where: Beauty Bar, March 13, 9 p.m. –Annie Zaleski
Why go? Stoic hipsters beware: The live YACHT experience is meant as an interactive dance party. Prolific blogger/ex-Blow member Jona Bechtolt has been known to infiltrate audiences and flail his limbs in time to his band’s combo of early-’80s NYC dub/electro and sleek laptop-pop.
Stream this song: “Summer Song” (Myspace.com/yacht)
Who’ll be standing next to you: Art-school kids and electro geeks.
Where & when: Beauty Bar, March 12, 9 p.m. –AZ
Why go? Reactivated after six years, future-leaning hip-hoppers Themselves continue to innovate. The pair’s iconic, midnight-hued cut-and-paste rhythms are set to coalesce on forthcoming album CrownsDown, featuring anticon labelmates Odd Nosdam and Why?, and kindred souls Aesop Rock and Busdriver.
Stream this song: “Take to the King” (Myspace.com/themselves)
Who’ll be standing next to you: Nerdy 20- and 30-something white guys.
Where & when: Beauty Bar, March 15, 9 p.m. –AZ
Why go? The San Diego four-piece will be hitting South by Southwest post-Reverb; Transfer’s sweeping Sunken Eyes EP is a rootsy take on frills-free, singer-songwriter-rooted classic rock. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a wicked, behind-the-scenes sense of humor?
Stream this song: “A Bitter Pill” (Myspace.com/transferband)
Who’ll be standing next to you: Soulful dudes sporting serious, unironic facial hair (and the women who love them).
Where & when: Bunkhouse, March 14, 9 p.m. –JS
- Neon Reverb: complete festival schedule
- Three questions with Eric Elbogen from Say Hi
- Three questions with Joe Kendall from Las Vegas Club
- From the Archives
- Under the neon, a festival makes its mark (9/14/08)
- Downtown-apalooza (9/4/08)
- Band Guide
- Browse locals bands playing Neon Reverb in our online band guide.
- Beyond the Weekly
- Neon Reverb MySpace
Las Vegas Club*
Why go? You never know who might join mainstay/mad scientist Joe Kendall onstage. Or what instruments they might be holding. Or what folk-based fare they might decide to play. In short, you don’t wanna miss the awesome fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pantsiness of it all.
Stream this song: “The March of Baby Jesus” (Myspace.com/lasvegasclub)
Who’ll be standing next to you: At least two people who have jammed with Kendall.
Where & when: Club Aruba, March 13, 9 p.m. –Spencer Patterson
A Crowd of Small Adventures
Why go? Jackson Wilcox’s once-ubiquitous Crowd—which played regularly throughout 2007 and early ’08—has gone missing from the live scene of late (last show: October 23), while focusing on completing that long-awaited first full-length. Neon Reverb will mark the debut of the band’s latest lineup, with producer Ronald Corso stepping into the bass seat.
Bonus tidbit: The four ACoSA members will play back-to-back Neon Reverb sets, since they also constitute four-sixths of Hungry Cloud.
Stream this song: “Bone City” YouTube.com/watch?v=rD6j1RZ79Ao )
Who’ll be standing next to you: A buddy you used to see at all the shows but haven’t bumped into in a while.
Where & when: Bunkhouse, March 12, 9 p.m. –SP
Why go? To dance your ass off to a local duo you might need advance tickets to see one day. Mikey and Beans are headed to South by Southwest after Neon Reverb (along with fellow Las Vegans The Day After, Halloween Town and Ashbury), and if the right folks happen upon the Raiders—i.e. those craving LCD Soundsystem-style electro with punkier vocals—they could be playing Coachella next spring.
Stream this song: “Future Thinkers” (Myspace.com/afghanraiders)
Who’ll be standing next to you: Someone in a Daft Punk T-shirt, preparing to go airborne.
Where & when: Beauty Bar, March 12, 9 p.m. –SP
The Boss City Sounds
Why go? The Sounds have defied the apparent death of ska, melding some of the finest bass-binging, horn-tooting and effete vocals to strike the Vegas scene in ages. The bouncy sextet reminds of a time before people traded their saxes for synths.
Stream this song: “Distance” (The Boss City Sounds)
Who’ll be standing next to you: Twenty-somethings in two-tone suits or Hawaiian shirts.
Where & when: Club Aruba, March 14, 9 p.m. –Aaron Thompson
Destruction of a Rose
Why go? As if logging a daily average of 5,000 MySpace plays wasn’t enough for this five-piece, staunch supporters Escape the Fate, As I Lay Dying and Alternative Press magazine have also lauded the band’s Molotov cocktail of hardcore, metal and screamo. Following a late-March recording week spent in California, a Standby Records debut is due in July.
Stream this song: “As I Lay Dying in Austria” (Myspace.com/destructionofarose)
Who’ll be standing next to you: Label Suits desperately trying to blend in.
Where & when: Box Office, March 12, 6 p.m. –Julie Seabaugh
Why go? Click Bang shoots listeners with an even more modern-day take on Radiohead’s spacey Brit-rock. If you get too paranoid, don’t worry; the spaceman says, “Everybody look down! It’s all in your mind.” Or something like that.
Stream this song: “A Day Beside the Sun” (Myspace.com/clickbang101)
Who’ll be standing next to you: Skinny, bearded white men; aliens.
Where & when: Bunkhouse, March 13, 9 p.m. –Jeremy Adams
Why go? Instead of shelling out $200 to see Paul McCartney open the new Joint, you might as well just take in this Anglophilic seven-piece from right next door. Their combination of Kinks-y melody and Byrds-esque psychedelia is so pure, it’ll hit you right in the Strawberry Alarm Clock.
Stream this song: “Everything Returns” (Myspace.com/easysleeves)
Who’ll be standing next to you: Austin Powers and the Love Guru.
Where & when:Club Aruba, March 13, 9 p.m. –JA
Quint & The Cowpunk Calamity
Why go? This side project from Quint Olsen of local punk rockers The Lurks is pure old-fashioned country, complete with steel guitar and upright bass. The band members’ backgrounds come out in their punk-rock attitude (and choice of covers), but the music is a lovely traditional outlaw country throwback.
Stream this song: Rancid cover “Olympia, WA” (Myspace.com/cowpunkcalamity)
Who’ll be standing next to you: People who like Hank Williams Jr. and Hank Williams III equally.
Where & when: Las Vegas Country Saloon, March 14, 9 p.m. –Josh Bell
Why go? Eclectic and unproduced, this duo’s downer acoustic indie rock is totally addictive. Not only that, but lead singer/guitarist Lucas F. Johnson also sort of sounds like Beck on Thorazine.
Stream this song: “The River” (Myspace.com/ku777)
Who’ll be standing next to you: Unshaven, drunk indie kids in torn jeans and plaid. Lots and lots of plaid.
Where & when: Bunkhouse, March 13, 9 p.m. –AT
Why go? When keyboardist Marites Velasquez left town, it seemed the spaced-out pop stylings of Vegas’ girl group du jour were as extinct as Dazzle, its unicorn mascot. But, bassist Judi Brown assures, “Love Pentagon is alive and well,” even as she concedes, “The five of us haven’t been in the same room since October.” Expect the debut of three new songs committed to tape in December, and a fourth, as-yet-unrecorded number.
Bonus tidbit: Drummer Courtney Carroll will perform—count ’em—four Neon Reverb sets this weekend: with Love Pentagon, The Clydesdale, Kid Meets Cougar and Bee Movie the Band.
Stream this song: “Diamond 700 Minus Star” (Lasvegasweekly.com/bands/love-pentagon)
Who’ll be standing next to you: Every local musician not onstage elsewhere.
Where & when: Beauty Bar, March 14, 9 p.m. –JS